On police shootings

According to news reports, US police have shot dead 541 citizens so far this year.

I was wondering what that would equate to, proportionally, in a country the size of, say, Australia.

The answer?

40 fatal police shootings.

I'm not sure how many people have been shot dead by Australian police this year, but I doubt it's in double figures.

I suspect that if the number was even 20 there would be Royal Commissions in every jurisdiction in the country. That means many African-American communities, which are disproportionately the target of police shootings, would be within their rights to feel as though they are living in a police state.

Of course, policing is a dangerous job and human error is inevitable, but police shootings of this magnitude are indefensible.

Also, reform is possible. Following a spate of police shootings in Victoria in the 1990s, changes to police led to a significant reduction in shootings.

Basically, if you equip police with surplus military gear and drill them with military training don't be surprised if they start behaving as though they are soldiers in a war zone.

That's one of the reasons why Australia needs to be wary of Federal moves to meld policing, border security, defence and spy agencies in the name of 'homeland security'.

Community safety must, primarily, be about the defence of civil liberties -- including the right to be safe from the overzealous powers of the state.